Interview: Kelly Thompson Tells Us What’s Next For Black Widow

Kelly Thompson Tells Us What’s Next For Black Widow

Last year, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Elena Casagrande relaunched Black Widow as an ongoing series for Marvel. Their first story gave Natasha Romanoff the family she never thought she would have. However, it was simply a scheme by Natasha’s enemies to break her before destroying her. Regardless, Natasha has regrouped in San Francisco to start a new chapter in her life. She’s also been joined by her former foe, Yelena Belova/White Widow. Together, they have gone up against a new threat who calls himself Apogee.

More recently, Thompson, Casagrande, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and cover artist Adam Hughes won the Eisner Award for best new series. Ahead of the conclusion of Black Widow‘s second story arc, Superhero Hype recently caught up with Thompson to chat about what the Widows will face next. She also passed along some unlettered pages from issue #10 by Casagrande and Bellaire, along with two covers by Hughes!

Superhero Hype: When you started on this series, did you always plan for it to become a Natasha and Yelena story?

Kelly Thompson: I always intended to use Yelena in the first arc, yes. But I hadn’t decided if she should stick around after that. However, once I started writing her, I really liked both her character and the dynamic she had with Natasha. It made a lot of sense for her to stick around both thematically and from character and plot perspectives. Being a huge Florence Pugh fan, and knowing she was likely to be a big fan favorite whenever the movie released, made it all the easier to keep her around.

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The two Widows are much closer in this series than they’ve been in the past. How and why did you decide to let them become emotionally bound together?

I think we’ve seen this relationship run the gamut from most hated of enemies to allies and even begrudging “sisters”…but I’ve always thought, once you got them past the “full-on enemies” phase, that their shared traumas really bond them at their core and if push came to shove, they would choose to be there for one another, to help. We’ve seen it/the suggestion of it in other stories and I was interested in pushing that idea further.

Both of them right now are on similar paths – trying to choose the better angels of their nature if you will – Yelena in trying to be a true hero, and friend to Natasha; Natasha in directing her energies into positive change for others/the world, instead of the revenge that she craves and which comes so naturally to Widows.

So far, there has been some friction over whether Natasha and Yelena should train Lucy to become like them. How deep does the split go between them?

They both have deep hatred for The Red Room but how they choose to react to that is different. Nat really doesn’t want to be doing anything that feels like training young soldiers unless it’s absolutely necessary (like it’s wartime as we saw in Secret Empire). While Yelena thinks she can do things differently and have it be a net positive. I think they’re both right and they’re both wrong.

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Will Anya Corazon/Spider-Girl be joining The Web full time?

I think that’s still TBD. I get really excited about bringing in characters I love, but it can overwhelm the narrative quickly, especially in a solo book. Anya made a lot of sense for us in this arc for a few reasons, including that she brought some nice levity to the book…and I think that still works, so she’s going to be hanging around for a bit, but I don’t know whether we should call it “full time” just yet.

What can you tell us about Apogee? Is this villain someone we’ve seen before?

Apogee is an all-new character. And there are a few more new villains coming, and they way the connect – and don’t – to Apogee will I hope be interesting for fans. We’re doing a slightly slower story roll out in a way…it’s a bit risky but I really like how it’s coming together so far!

We know that Natasha’s “family” is out of the picture, but will we see her reunite with the villains who put her through that ordeal?

Depends on how long the book goes. Natasha has made a concerted effort to not go after them with revenge in mind. But are they safe if she runs across them elsewhere? I wouldn’t bet on it. Viper in particular suggested she wanted Widow off the board (trapped in her “idyllic life”) for some very specific things Viper was planning. And if we get enough issues I’d love to tell that story. We’ll see!

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What did you think about the Black Widow movie?

I loved it. Very much worth the wait. The themes and ideas felt right on for what an MCU Black Widow story should be. Like many comic fans, I love the idea in the comics that Natasha is very old and was given some version of a “super soldier” serum that resulted in things like slowed aging, and that’s probably the thing I really miss in the MCU take on Natasha.

But I have to say I found the family angle in the film very powerful and effective. It really anchored Nat in a way we haven’t previously seen. The chemistry between Nat and Yelena in particular was a true highlight of the film.

We know the comic was developed separately from your series. Regardless, it’s hard not to see some of your Yelena and Natasha reflected on the big screen. Did you feel the same way?

I was really pleased to see similarities, yes. [laughs] Makes you feel like you know what you’re doing when you see that other smart people (doing something much much larger than what you’re doing) have similar instincts.

Having seen Black Widow, is there anything from the film that you’d like to incorporate into the comic?

Gotta get that vest in there. I love that vest scene so much. And it’s wonderful that they took something from an earlier movie…but that is technically later in the timeline than this movie…and gave it such meaning and back-story.

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What’s coming up in the next few issues of Black Widow?

Through issue 10 is the Apogee arc…which includes some absolutely bonkers fight scenes courtesy of the incredible Elena Casagrande, Rafael De Latorre, and Jordie Bellaire. Issue 11 is a standalone issue. But it connects to both what came before and what comes next. So maybe it’s better described as a “bridge issue”? And then we’ll have some familiar faces coming back around to help Nat with our arc that begins with issue 12.

Issue 13 is gonna be WILD. Some people are going to absolutely love it…but it’s a big risk. We’re all about the risks over here at Black Widow Comics! [laughs]

When Adam Hughes is working on a cover, do you tell him far in advance what the issue is going to be about?

We do our best. Fortunately, Adam Hughes is a comics making god and so even with something less issue specific he hits it out of the park every time. I really can’t understate how important his covers have been to our success. He just gets what we’re doing and has helped us so much in putting that best foot forward. We’re so lucky to have him.

Finally, tell us about working with artists Elena Casagrande, Rafael de Latorre, & Jordie Bellaire on the series.

What a dream team. Elena has wowed everyone – rightly so – with her magnificent action spreads. But she’s also doing incredibly nuanced character stuff for Natasha, and Yelena too. With such a strong art team, having a guest artist can be a real problem, but we have been so lucky to have Rafael as part of the team – he’s got a beautiful style that is all his own but is nicely in sync with what Elena is doing. He’s risen to every challenge. And of course we’ve got the brilliant Jordie Bellaire making us all look very very good…thank the comic gods for Jordie!

Black Widow #10 will hit comic book stores on Wednesday, August 25.

Recommended Reading: Black Widow by Kelly Thompson Vol. 1: The Ties That Bind

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